Mithali gave a big statement, said
The feeling of being called the “former India captain” hasn’t gone down yet as Mithali Raj hasn’t gone through the full circle of emotions after saying goodbye to her illustrious 23-year career last week.
Mithali knew her time had come after the 2022 World Cup in New Zealand, but since she doesn’t like to take big decisions in a jiffy, the 39-year-old waited for a few months before announcing her retirement.
In an exclusive interview to PTI, the undisputed biggest icon of Indian women’s cricket spoke on a range of issues covering her legacy, the experience of playing in the pre and post era of BCCI, the team’s experience over the last five years. inconsistent run’, ‘differences’. In the dressing room’ during the 2022 World Cup, and in the ‘Gen-Next’ of India players.
#ThankYouMithali pic.twitter.com/xkMo8y2zQy – BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) June 8, 2022
Q: It’s been a week since you announced your retirement. Has it sunk yet?
A: To be honest, the first time I thought of retirement was when Rahul Dravid retired (in 2012). I saw his press conference, he was very emotional and I thought how will it be when I retire. Would I feel that feeling? And after that there were a few more retirements and I was hoping I wouldn’t be so emotional. I was very clear in my mind that the World Cup was going to be my last. But I’m not one of those people who take decisions when there’s a lot of emotion (which he did in the World Cup).
Then I went to the domestic T20 event and realized I didn’t have that passion and felt it was my time (to retire). I am a goal-oriented person. The World Cup was my goal. After that I didn’t see myself for the next four years so I thought it was the right time to retire. Sometimes you feel the effect of things after some time. So it still hasn’t sunk.
Q: Millions of girls look up to you for what you did on the field. What according to you has been your biggest legacy?
A: I’ve been asked a lot about my heritage but never got a good answer. I think I probably would have normalized girls playing street cricket and enrolling in academies. It wasn’t very common when I started playing. They used to say, ‘We don’t take girls to our academies, you take them somewhere else’. Now there is no academy which can call itself an all exclusive boys academy which does not allow girls to play. This gives me great satisfaction. The academy I went to, which I was told was a boys’ academy, is where so many girls enroll.
Q: From traveling in unreserved trains to traveling around the world in business class, you saw it all in women’s cricket in the pre and post BCCI era. How do you both see the world?
A: Both had their own charm. I had a lot of fun even in the pre-BCCI era. It had a very different feel, although the resources were scarce but there were other aspects of the game that we really enjoyed. “We were in oblivion, no one knew about us, but I still had a lot of fun at that time. When BCCI took women’s cricket under its wing, professionalism took over the game. BCCI brought stability, security and development to our sport.
Q: It seems like you found ways to have fun even in the face of adversity?
A: “Well, we were all living in the dormitories. If we were playing tournaments at a school and they used to be in the summer, sometimes we would take over the class room and stay there. “You always found ways to enjoy the game, even when the conditions weren’t great. There was nothing like rich and poor kids, we were all on the same bus. There was so much to share between each other because someone There was no cell-phone, no social media, we only had our teammates. Now we are in five star hotels and everyone goes to their rooms or talks on the phone as soon as the match is over. I want to talk, so mostly girls, I find them using their phones. As soon as the game ends, they’re all on the phone (laughs). I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, Just times have changed.It was more careless then.
Q: Is there room to bring more professionalism to the game?
A: With every series coming on TV, with the women’s IPL coming up, it will only get better. The franchise will have its own set up and the players will benefit from playing side by side with international stars in a professional league.
Question: Will it be correct to say that the graph of the Indian team in 2017 has gone down after reaching the heights?
A: Every good team, once they finish the World Cup, they start rebuilding for the next edition, finding players for specific roles and giving them exposure and all that. A year’s loss due to the pandemic didn’t help. But still I will not give it as an excuse for my performance in the World Cup. But you must realize that when we bring in some new players, sometimes the transition is smooth and sometimes it takes a while. It is not easy for the teams to come out of the long quarantine and give their best. Our spin department has been apathetic at times from the South Africa series last year. It has really shocked us. Because we depend too much on them.
Question: During the World Cup, there were reports from New Zealand that all is not well in the dressing room?
A: When you play team sports, there will be differences and disagreements. It’s very natural. They all want to do well but everyone has a different opinion. But as captain, even if things get tough, I can’t lose my temper, my vision for the team should be clear. In letting my emotions guide, I will not focus on the things I want the team to work on. Even though people think I’m calm, passive, I’m not aggressive, but moderation has helped me focus on the things that matter to us and to help the players focus on the important things Maintains a sense of calm in the team.
Q: Looking ahead, who are the players in your opinion who will serve India for a long time?
A: Kiran Navagire is worth seeing. She did well in the domestic T20 and Women’s Challenge. In the Indian team you have Yastika Bhatia, Richa Ghosh and Shafali Verma. In the few occasions Meghna has got, she has done well. If you want your bench to be strong, you have to give the young players a chance to grow.
Q: Are you ready to play in the women’s IPL next year?
A: It is too early to decide now. we will see.
Q: Any plans to get into cricket administration or start your own business?
A: I have a few things on my mind. There are few offers but as always I will choose something that fulfills me and is related to the game.